Summer camping trips lead to stunning landscapes and natural habitats that are sure to excite any budding photographer: crystal-clear lakes glimmer beneath glacier-covered mountains; mossy green trees sprout with new life in moist rainforests; and radiant stars speckle the night sky like diamonds overhead.

Whether your looking to populate your Instagram feed with a wanderlust-worthy photo, immortalize your evening spent sleeping beneath the stars or take your photography skills to the next level, a great place to start is by capturing star trails.


Credit: Josep Castells / Unsplash /Edited by AlisonKarlene


Looking to photograph star trails? Here are some handy tips for pro-level results:

Equipment: DSLR; tripod; cable release or remote.

1. Find a location far from light pollution on a cloudless and dry night.

2. Mount your DSLR on the tripod; compose the shot with some stationary elements in it — mountains, trees, tent, etc — and preferably with the North Star within the frame (as the northern celestial polar centre, stars will rotate counter-clockwise around this point). Ensure the moon is not, and will not be, in your shot; New Moon Phase offers the least amount of light pollution.

3. On “Manual” mode, open aperture to maximum; set shutter speed to “bulb;” use 100 or 200 ISO.

4. Lock autofocus on a bright star, then switch to manual focus (don’t change focal point).

5. Open the shutter (via remote) and leave open for 60 to 180 minutes. Voila, star trails!

6. Be a Star Trail Pro: Rather than one long exposure, which can introduce digital noise, shoot a series of 30-second exposures in succession for 60 minutes or more. Use Photoshop (or similar program) to “stack” the images on your computer for pro-level, noise-less results.

Note: Long exposures devour battery power. Pack an extra.



Related Content on


Plan your next great adventure with explore!
Off the beaten path locations, tips and tricks, interviews with intrepid explorers and more.